New Direction

wrong turn 2021


3.5 Stars  2021/110m

A.k.a. Wrong Turn 7Wrong Turn: The Foundation

“This land is their land.”

Director: Mike P. Nelson / Writer: Alan B. McElroy / Cast: Charlotte Vega, Matthew Modine, Bill Sage, Adain Bradley, Emma Dumont, Dylan McTee, Daisy Head, Tim deZarn, Amy Warner, Adrian Favela, Vardaarn Arora.

Body Count: 20

Laughter Lines: “Remember it’s pizza-movie night. The boys picked something with… inbred cannibals.” / “Again??”

Stand by for a direction you didn’t expect with this series reboot, shot with the suffix of The Foundation, but then just given the same title as the 2003 original so’s not to end up in Children of the Corn territory with an endless array of “what number is this??” confusions. Try not to trip over some of the minor spoilers.

After five sequels of largely sub-par quality that weaved an ever more head-scratching timeline of events, it’s goodbye to Three-Finger, One-Eye and Saw-Tooth and hello to a mountain dwelling community of… people. That’s it really. People who live on the mountain, keep themselves to themselves, but don’t take particularly kindly to interlopers. That said, they’re not deranged murderers either, simply defenders of their land and way of life. They are… THE FOUNDATION.

wrong turn 2021

From the off, it’s evident that the budget and creative thinking has been massively overhauled (and the film even got a one-day theatrical run), as we join Matthew Modine’s stressed out father, driving into a small town by the Appalachians looking for his daughter Jennifer and her friends, who haven’t been heard from in six weeks. Echoes of the more sinister parts of the original (and the Friday the 13th reboot) abound as folks tell him people go missing a lot around there and never turn up – so STAY. ON. THE. TRAIL.

Of course, a diversion to go and look for some historical monument leads to an encounter with THE FOUNDATION and a log flies down the hill, killing one of the group gruesomely. Believing it to be an accident, but now lost, they camp for the night and wake up to find all their phones and one of their friends AWOL. Another trap is triggered and various panic and confusion culminates in short-tempered Adam beating to death a member of THE FOUNDATION with a log.

wrong turn 2021

The surviving friends are captured and put on trial by the elders, who all hang out in animal skulls and camo-garb (for hunting, they say), saying that nobody was going to kill anyone, but nevertheless sentence Adam to death and the others to ‘darkness’, which means the eyes are gouged with a hot poker and they’re left to fend for themselves in a cave. Jennifer manages to negotiate for herself and boyfriend Darius and they become members of the Hotel California that is… THE FOUNDATION.

Back to the present we come to join Jen’s dad as he ventures into the wilderness to find her, and the rest of the film follows their escape attempts, with some unexpected allies recruited along the way.

wrong turn 2021

The differences between Wrong Turn of olde and this reboot are stark, from being thirty whole minutes longer, there are no mutant inbred cannibals (see that Laughter Line – original writer McElroy’s sassy swipe at what’s been done to his vision?) and this steps as far as it can from being a backwoods slasher film, rejigging the entire franchise concept. Rustic traps do continue to feature for fans of inventive squishings and there are some spine tingling scenes involving the disguises used by the forest dwellers.

Good performances from Vega, Sage, and Modine pretty much compensate for all of the ropey amateur-hour acting of the interim sequels. However, the crowded supporting cast means that most of the others fade into the background: Two of the hikers are a gay couple (male for a refreshing alternate to the repetitive girl-on-girl stuff from Wrong Turn 4), but do little other than hold hands a couple of times before being summarily killed off; the others amount to little more than angry guy, quippy girl, and ideal boyfriend.

wrong turn 2021

An interesting premise with some nice ideas about societies that could’ve used a little more exploration. Will future instalments follow on with THE FOUNDATION or can we expect the ever-rubbery-masked trio of people-eaters to return?

Blurbs-of-interest: Bill Sage was also in Fender Bender. Writer McElroy scribed Halloween 4.

Farmville gone wild

the redwood massacre 2014


3 Stars  2014/18/83m

“Evil doesn’t die easily.”

Director/Writer: David Ryan Keith / Cast: Lisa Cameron, Lisa Livingstone, Mark Wood, Rebecca Wilkie, Adam Coutts, Lee Hutcheon.

Body Count: 21-ish

Laughter Lines: “Maybe we took a wrong turn or something?”

It feels like the last ten slasher films I saw all started with a girl stumbling through the woods at night accosted by a hulking killer. Admittedly I roll my eyes, wondering if we’re also heading for some girl-on-girl and asshole characters.

Twenty years ago – never 19, never 21 – a farmer heard a voice from his scarecrow telling him to chop up his family. He listened, then offed himself. We don’t learn his name, but I don’t think it was Marz. Legend has it that his son, one of the victims, still haunts the Scottish woodland around the area. Why? Dunno. How? Shrug. I’m not sure it was ever explained. Either way, each anniversary attracts hordes of teens to the remote area for ‘the party of the year’.

the redwood massacre 2014

This time, gal-pals Pamela and Jessica rock up for a camping weekend with the latter’s ex, Mark, and his high-maintenance girlfriend Kirsty. Their other friend Bruce is supposed to come too but fails to show up. Hmm… After a few other schmucks are sliced and diced by the scarecrow-masked wacko, Pamela and Kirsty awake to find their friends absent, their phones unable to find signal, and so set out to find them, which leads them to the abandoned Redwood Farm, scene of the murders.

the redwood massacre 2014

Campers are axed, hacked, sickled, and have the old hand-pulls-out-insides gag happen to them. The Redwood Massacre revels in its sticky bloodletting a wee bit too much, allowing other considerations to slide somewhat. One character appears with a whole backstory, but is never allotted a name, claiming to be out for a revenge for the death of his daughter, then when the killer arrives tells him he’s not afraid to die and so…just does.

the redwood massacre 2014

Cliched dialogue and characters who pretty much hang around waiting to die (check out the flashback moment where the girl just lies in place despite having several seconds in which she could flee) are at least buoyed by a good score, sharp and impressive photography, and an almost Wolf Creeky sense of being lost beyond help once we’re down to the last respiring individual, all of which gives the film a fair leg-up from its shortfalls. It’s also Scottish, which means it’s full of sexy accents.

A sequel featuring Danielle Harris (!) followed in 2020.

Bored Games

dead body 2017


2 Stars  2017/80m

“This game has no winner!”

Director: Bobbin Ramsay / Writers: Ramon Isao & Ian Bell / Cast: Rachel Brun, Cooper Hopkins, Spencer Hamp, Nic Morden, Jay Myers, Leah Salcido Pfenning, Nate Pringle.

Body Count: 7

Dominic invites his old schoolmate Ilsa to a wooded cabin for a little reunion before they head off to college, only she brings her boyfriend Dwayne, and then Sara, Eli, Marcus, and Rumor all turn up as well. Plus there are two random Japanese exchange students staying.

They drink, dance, and decide to play a round or two of Dead Body, which is kinda like hide and seek with an allotted ‘murderer’. To the surprise of nobody but the cast, someone has taken it too far and real killings begin to occur. The group throw around accusations galore, trap each other in rooms, run off into the woods, split up, die some more…

The killings are pretty tame and uninventive, but a couple of characters simmer with the notion that they may reveal an interesting facet about themselves, but the pot never boils over and we’re left with the pale stereotypes pointed out on the cover art.

The identity of the killer is ridiculously obvious, to the point where I hoped the film was going to hit me with a twist out of the left field, but it never came. The mask was pulled off and it was the person I pegged it as 26 minutes in. Bogus.

Keep calm. There’s a douche bro inside your house.

don't hang up 2016DON’T HANG UP

3 Stars  2016/15/83m

“Be careful who you prank.”

Directors: Damien Macé & Alexis Wajsbrot / Writer: Joe Johnson / Cast: Gregg Sulkin, Garrett Clayton, Bella Dayne, Jack Brett Anderson, Sienna Guillory, Philip Desmeules (voice).

Body Count: 8

Terror is ‘gendered feminine’, which is why most horror posters feature a babe in peril, why we have final girls rather than boys, and why it’s always a girl alone in the house when the strange phone calls begin…

But what if instead of Scream‘s standard tormented-female, it’s a couple of teen boys who are the ones plagued by creepy calls? Welcome to Don’t Hang Up.

In spite of the above, things begin with a woman who answers a call in the wee hours to be told the cops are surrounding the house because there is an intruder and she needs to block herself in the room. She freaks, worries for her daughter, and just as the policeman tells her they can see the intruder is coming towards her, it’s revealed as a prank.

Douchier than douchey dude-bros Brady and Sam are behind it, with a couple of other buddies douches, and they load their clips online for the LOLZ. Yeah, they’re total toxic assholes and we want them to die from the off, more so when Sam, pining over his distant girlfriend, decides to play Ed fucking Sheeran for long enough to make me contemplate switching off.

don't hang up 2016

The boys get together one night at Sam’s while his folks are away and record a few more phone gags, pretending to be cops telling folks their spouses are dead, ordering pizzas for the neighbours, then calling said neighbour posing as Neighbourhood Watch to tell them thieves disguised as pizza delivery guys are working the block… Assholes.

Then they get a call back from a calm voice who tells them not to hang up, calls them a few names and is generally a bit creepy. They laugh it off and crack a beer, but the guy keeps calling, eventually dropping one of their names into it to get their attention. Seems they’ve pissed the wrong person off.

don't hang up 2016

The caller, allowing himself to be referred to as Mr Lee, plays his hand slowly, showing them he has Brady’s parents stripped and tied to chairs and they’ll die if either of the boys try to leave. The phone signal has been hacked so any attempts to call the cops are redirected back to the stranger, secrets the two of them have kept from one another are revealed, and their punk friends are also being murdered.

For a what-would-you-do dilemma horror, Don’t Hang Up does well enough, insofar as being able to explain away the things most of us would think about trying without the solutions being too obvious or the characters too stupid, and things culminate in a fairly predictable but fitting way. This is one film that actually benefits from the main characters being dicks, as they’re entirely deserving of the horror unfolding on them, with ye olde central slasher pic motif of the prank-gone-wrong.

don't hang up 2016

One part When a Stranger Calls, one part Joyride, another part Unfriended – but with a body count and emphasis on guys being terrorised for a refreshing change. Good stuff.

Ich weiß, was du vor [ ] Sommern gemacht hast

party hard die young 2018


2 Stars  2018/89m

“Are you ready for your last dance?”

Director: Dominik Hartl / Writers: Robert Buchschwenter & Karin Lomot / Cast: Elisabeth Wabitsch, Michael Glantschnig, Marlon Boess, Markus Freistätter, Valerie Huber, Antonia Moretti, Hisham Morscher, Thomas Otrok, Alexandra Schmidt, Nikolaas von Schrader, Fabian Unger, Chantal Zitzenbacher.

Body Count: 5

I watched this German-language Austrian film, shot in Croatia, dubbed into Spanish, which I can read and speak acceptably, but am slow translating aurally, due to the tempo at which it’s spoken. So, here I was comprehending what was happening in any given scene about halfway through the next scene. Loco.

From what I could discern, a group of recently graduated friends head to a hedonistic Croatian party island where they’re cordially invited to a huge party – all lasers, EDM, and drunken fools.

Main-girl Julia does not want to tell her bestie, Jessica, that they’ll actually not be rooming together next year, as she’s going to another college. When that secret tumbles out, Jessica storms off, never to be seen again. Julia later receives a text message with a photo of Jessica crossed hard die young 2018

As ever in these things, the others buy the dud message that Jessica’s partying elsewhere and continue their good time, until another girl meets a nasty end – but was it an accident or something more sinister? Another dude bids adieu stating he’s leaving early but ends up getting a bottle forced down his throat.

And so on and so forth. The remaining girls figure out that it has something to do with an old classmate, Anna, who committed suicide sometime after a party they were all at together. Red-herrings come and go, but with the language barrier and an excessively large central cast who are indistinguishable at best, it became difficult to track who trusted who.

Eventually, the final few are captured and the past sin revealed, which involved a game of spin the bottle and, I gathered, a possible sexual assault. The killer makes them play, Julia saves the day, blah blah blah.

party hard die young

Regrettably, too many of the characters survive. Given the group numbers eight-to-twelve at its peak, only four of them are actually murdered – three girls and one guy, leaving the douchiest boys intact (though embarrassed by what happened with the bottle), even though they are the ones mostly responsible for Anna’s suicide it would seem.

Some cool visuals at the party, a cute scene when the plus-size girl goes for it, and Croatian backdrops help, but the story seems to take a backseat and wimps out where it counts the most.

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